16/03/2012

By Hilda Goold, project manager, First100

In the current global economy, making an impact early on in a new leadership role is more important than ever. Your performance in your first 100 days can be the difference between success and failure in your new role.

Ambitious and dynamic leaders need to divest themselves of the idea that the first 100 days can be considered the ‘honeymoon’ or ‘settling in’ period; those days are long gone. Judgements are made much more quickly now and a leader’s achievements in the first 100 days are routinely taken as an indication of his or her leadership potential in the future.

The first step in accelerating performance in the first 100 days is to detach from your old role and organisation as quickly and cleanly as possible. This can be particularly difficult for the internal appointee, for whom it is understandably tempting to stay involved in the previous role. However, it is imperative to completely detach from your old role and focus fully on the new one.

You will undoubtedly face challenges during this time of transition, for example time pressures, being overwhelmed with task driven priorities and learning the new company culture. Understanding what these challenges might be will help you avoid your derailment.

Your first 100 days is a like a sprint and after that more like a marathon. You need to make an immediate impact and so, a strong, achievable and focused first 100 days plan is vital whilst also setting the tone for long-term success. In what can be a chaotic and emotional time with many distractions, putting your detailed first 100 days plan into action will give you structure and focus. Once you have clearly outlined your key strategic priorities, it will be easier to remain focused on them.

When writing your plan, attention should be given to a number of key performance accelerators. Such as;

Building relationships: You must invest early in building new networks and forging strong and effective stakeholder relationships. Get to know your bosses, your bosses’ boss, your subordinates and your peers, both in your own and in other departments.

Paying attention to your emotional intelligence: The first 100 days is an intense time period, so understanding that your emotional reactions are heightened is crucial. Tune in to your emotions and intuitions. Be aware of how your emotions affect you, your performance at work and others around you.

Focus on leadership effectiveness: You need to focus on your leadership effectiveness, which is, understanding what leadership is really about. Put simply, a leader must set a clear direction, bring people with him/her, and deliver results.

Building a high performing team: Performance acceleration is not possible unless you have the right people in the right roles. You need to build a high performing team. With this in mind you must critically assess your team early on and figure out who the key decision-makers, influencers and potential blockers are. It may be necessary to recruit fresh talent and energy, or simply to restructure the team. You need to be able to communicate your vision to your team and set a clear direction.

The First 100 approach is very focused on the steps necessary to achieve success. It is about identifying strategic priorities, setting achievable aims, and making sure you meet them with a detailed first 100 days plan. The plan is tailored to meet your specific needs and geared toward performance acceleration that has a massive cascade effect to the organisation from day one.